The Southeastern Conference's supervisor of officials said
Sunday the crew working the Tennessee-Florida game erred in
handling the clock, allowing the Volunteers more time on their
final drive, which ended with a game-winning field goal.
The mistake occurred when Florida receiver Dallas Baker was
called for unsportsmanlike conduct after DeShawn Wynn was stopped
on a third-down run with 55 seconds left in the game, with the
Gators leading 28-27 Saturday night.
After the penalty, the officials placed the ball on the ground
and began running the clock on the snap for Florida's fourth-down
Bobby Gaston, the SEC supervisor of officials, said because it
was a running play, the clock should have started on the "ready"
-- when the referee winds his arm -- and not the snap.
"We left it to start on the snap when we should have started it
on the wind," Gaston told The Associated Press on Sunday night.
"If there's a penalty, you always go back to the result of the
previous play, which was a run."
Gaston was at the game and noticed the mistake.
"I did, but the crew didn't," Gaston said. "But I'm not down
there on the field. Unfortunately, I realized we had missed it."
James Wilhoit kicked a 50-yard field goal with 6 seconds left
and No. 11 Tennessee (2-0, 1-0 SEC) won 30-28, its first win over
No. 16 Florida (1-1, 0-1) at home since 1998, the year the Vols won
the national championship.
Messages left for Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley,
Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton and Vols coach Phil Fulmer late Sunday
were not immediately returned.
Gaston would not comment to the AP on the penalty on Baker, but
Florida Today, which first reported the story on its Web site
Sunday, quoted Gaston as saying both teams could have been
penalized on the play.
"After looking at it, it appears to me it should have been an
offset, that both sides were equally responsible and then the clock
should have started on the ready for play," Gaston told the
newspaper. "You just offset it and put the ball down where it was
and wind the clock."
Gaston said there's "accountability with our officials," but
any punishment issued would be discussed with both schools and
decided by the SEC's commissioner. He said any punishment would not
be made public.
Gaston said he didn't know if the mistake cost the Gators the
road win, but the timing of the call magnified its importance.
"If it happened in the first quarter, you wouldn't be talking
to me tonight," Gaston said.